Poland saved an Iranian match ball before celebrating in an amazing fifth set
Lodz, Poland, September 13, 2014 - In an incredible battle in front of a packed Atlas Arena, host team Poland survived a serious scare from Iran and earned a hard-fought win 3-2 (25-17, 25-16, 24-26, 19-25, 16-14). The result qualified France for the next round, while both Poland and Iran keep their chances.
• The thrilling contest was just their second clash at FIVB World Championship.
• Poland grabbed their seventh win, getting closer to their best ever streak - 10 victories in 2006.
• Iran, meanwhile, has already reached their best campaign - six wins with surpass their total of five in their history at the tournament.
• The result automatically qualified France for the third round, as Les Bleus cannot fall below Pool E third place.
Local idol Mariusz Wlazly smashed a personal best of 28 points to stand above all scorers, while teammate Michal Kubiak earned exactly half of those points - 14. Iran had in their blocking star Seyed Mousavi and in Mojtaba Mirzajanpour the two most prolific contributors, with 15 tallies each.
The match began with a high-pitch game as both teams unleashed tremendous spikes. After the first break, Wlazly made massive damage from the service line and opened a 10-8 gap, enhanced by some equally powerful serves from Michal Winiarski (14-9). Iran was speechless against the mighty play from the hosts and the distance grew to 21-14. Kubiak and Dawid Konarski added the final points for the 25-17.
Poland continued their crushing walk over Iran with an ace from Karol Klos that created a 6-3 difference. Wlazly remained as a true nightmare as he combined spikes and a block to extend to 11-6, but the entire local side performed amazingly, giving a huge treat to the fans. Piotr Nowakowski scored the 20-12 and Iran couldn’t do anything as Wlazly gave shape to a 25-16 on the board.
After the long break, Winiarski and Wlazly attacked towards a 9-5 score and the wing spiker fired an ace at 11-6, but the Asian side started playing with a couple of Ghafour’s serves (13-11). Pumped up, Iran kept going as Mirzajanpour achieved a 17-point tie. A wide local ball gave Iran their first lead of the game at 20-19 and, in a nerve-racking finale which included captain Winiarski leaving the court, Armin Tashakori brought down the local passing as Iran grabbed the set by 26-24.
The temperature got higher in a crucial set for both of them. Iran improved from the service line and put Poland under pressure, in a completely different match than before. The Iranian advantage moved from 13-10 to 17-14 and the tie-breaker started to become true in Lodz. Ghafour scored the 20-17, Tashakori aced at 23-18 and a net fault sealed the 25-19, as Iran kept their third round hopes alive.
The final set was mind-blowing. Mousavi blocked home main weapon Wlazly and Iran advanced to 4-2, keeping the lead with Ghafour in great shape (9-7). Poland remained at reach and a stuff block by Klos scored the 11-11. Iran had a match ball in 14-13 with Gholami, but Kubiak spiked and an Iranian mistake changed the tide (15-14). Marcin Mozdzonek seized the chance with another block for an agonic 16-14.